Bill and Dallett’s journey with hearing loss serves as a reminder that awareness of hearing loss does not necessarily translate into motivation to take action. Although Bill was very aware of his hearing loss, it took many years before he reached the point where he was ready to seek help. Before taking action, Bill hated the idea of wearing hearing aids. To him, the thought was worse than being told he needed to wear adult diapers every day.
The film also shows the importance of openly discussing the social effects of hearing loss with clients and their family. Because of Bill’s reluctance to seek professional help, he began to avoid all types of social contact. He grew withdrawn and became a different person. This transformation was clear to Bill’s partner Dallett, but Bill may not have realized the costs of not taking action and seeking help.
Stage: Maintenance (CI Patient)
Receiving hearing instruments or cochlear implants can have significant social and emotional consequences for an individual. Pay close attention to the point in the video where John states that it was difficult “being like I was before... again.”
John had gone many years living with severe hearing loss. When he received cochlear implants, not only was his hearing affected, but also his emotional state. It is important to remember that while hearing aids and cochlear implants can significantly improve a person’s hearing, they can also impact an individual on a psychosocial level.
John's journey shows how an understanding of a client's unique story can help you as a hearing care professional develop a shared strategy with the client that addresses their specific needs. John had specific professional and personal needs when it came to communication. He needed to hear well in the court room, at meetings with clients, and when visiting his wife's family.
It is important to allow time during the consultation session for your client to describe their hearing loss in their own terms. This will help you understand their perspective and address their needs.
Recommended tools: Living Well
Nicky has had a severe hearing loss since birth. She has communication difficulties in almost all scenarios, but she readily addresses her difficulties and copes well socially. Because she is so open about her hearing loss and willing to advocate for herself, Nicky can readily reflect on the difference between the hearing world and the non-hearing world and what it means to transition between the two at different stages of her life.
Nicky sees healthy communication as key to living well with hearing loss. She believes it is necessary to continue to educate people for both her own sake and the sake of the person she is communicating with, but still finds it frustrating when people suggest that she has “selective hearing.”
Melanie is a retired theatre and film agent turned writer. She has had a hearing loss for most of her life, but has only in recent years begun using hearing aids, as she found older models to be impractical for her type of hearing loss. She also had trouble getting past the stigma associated with large, unattractive hearing aids.
While she readily adopts the necessary technology – despite admitting to not being technologically savvy – she gets hung up the appearance of hearing aids and their accessories. For her, the appearance of hearing aids and related technology have a large psychological impact on her readiness to discuss her hearing loss with other people. Fortunately, she is enthusiastic about the advances that have been made both technologically and aesthetically.
Mr. Stein is past 80 and has had a hearing loss for several years. He has only been motivated to take action on his hearing loss, however, since his wife became ill. Mr. Stein is afraid that if his wife needed help, he wouldn’t be able to hear her. His audiologist, Oscar, has recommended the use of a streamer, which will help him hear her from another room.
Having a clear goal in mind for the situations where he would like to improve his hearing gives Mr. Stein a clear motivation. Later, we see that both Mr. and Mrs. Stein have found that their communication has improved since they began using the transmitter. They both place a lot of importance on quality of life, which contributes to the positive outlook both have on hearing loss and illness.
Mark has had a severe hearing loss for years. He uses hearing aids on a daily basis and regularly visits his audiologist, Oscar. Where Mark struggles is communicating at home with his wife. She is frustrated by his hearing loss and doesn't attend his appointments with his audiologist. They have tried using an FM system, but Mark’s wife was frustrated that while this improved communication in some settings, it wasn’t an ideal solution for all situations. Mark himself is frustrated because he feels his wife is insensitive to what it means to have a hearing loss.
Oscar and Mark have had a working relationship for 10 years and are very candid with each other. Oscar feels he should do more to involve Mark’s wife in their sessions, and they make plans to set up a meeting between the three of them and try to improve her understanding of Mark’s hearing loss.
John has a mild mid-to-high frequency hearing loss, but doesn’t really feel affected by it. He is, however, highly motivated to use his hearing aids, because his wife, Anne, has herself been using hearing aids for 30 years. John sees adopting these devices now while his hearing loss is still mild as a way of adapting and learning to cope before his hearing loss becomes a real impairment.
Anne is a former president of Hearing Loss Association of America and an advocate of the importance of communication. She has learned to strategize how to function in ways that she feels are comfortable and effective. Anne and John are a support system for each other and constantly develop new strategies on how to continue living well with their hearing loss.